It’s a new year, a time of possibilities that are just waiting for you to make them happen. So are characters! The villain who has been wronged. The heroine who is ready to save her family. The supporting characters who try to stop the hero from making a grave mistake. The lessons learned from our actions. It’s all there, waiting to be read, written, consumed. Whatever your fancy.
Oh, how a fictional story can tell us so much about real life, especially the characters. No Johnny, don’t go take a peek in the dark. You’ll get captured, or worse, killed. No Catherine, don’t fall for that guy. He’ll break your heart. Go for the guy who protects you, duh. It’s all so painful obvious, yet we love it because we continue to make these mistakes ourselves. We read these stories hoping to learn and prosper from their stories and to escape our own dire mistakes. I know I do.
But the key, my friend, to escaping and rooting for the villain or heroine or supporting characters is character depth. I know I've discussed character depth before, and probably will again, but it's a key ingredient to a good story and I want to make sure my writer's get all the practice they can get. As a writer, I still practice my character depth right alongside my writer's.
As a reader, I need a connection to the character, something that either inspires me, intrigues me, or I relate to. This doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be just the hero/heroine who has depth. Oh no! I’ve fallen and rooted for a many villain, though usually they die or get imprisoned. Still, I felt their pain and wanted to see that others understood their story. Why? Because I felt their depth.
This week in Teen Writer’s that is exactly what we focused our attention toward. Creating a character from an array of abilities, looks, backgrounds, etc., and having thirty minutes to give this character a life, to give it depth and make me want to know more about him, her, it. Guess what, they did it.
From the atheist angel to the OCD computer tech to the vampire that despised her life, I was hooked on their characters. But how did we get there in thirty minutes? I’ll tell you. We focused on the character, not the story. I told the teens to think of their character, not the novel they want to write. Make me fall in love with this one character as fast as you can by showing me their depth. Boom!
Once we were finished, I explained the importance of doing this with every character, though some may not be as detailed as others. It is imperative you know your characters as well as the story you want to tell. For if you don’t know your character, how can anyone else?
Readers: What are some qualities that intrigue you toward a character? Are you pro hero or villain?
Writers: What is some character development advice you could share?
January 6th Teen Writer’s Exercise:
Writing my thoughts and experiences one post at a time.